After showing video clips and testimony from some of Trump’s closest confidants regarding his conduct during the riots and efforts to affect the results of the 2020 election, the Jan. 6 committee has begun laying out a made-for-TV case against former president Donald Trump. But Attorney General Merrick Garland, the committee’s most influential audience member, will ultimately decide whether or not to bring criminal charges against Trump.
Maggie Severns has more to say about this story:
The former federal prosecutor Samuel Buell says it would be “unusual” if the Justice Department from one presidency indicted the defeated opponent and prospective repeat opponent of the existing president. As a lawyer, how can you even begin to think of the proper course of action? To determine whether or not Trump has broken the law, Garland must consider whether or not the evidence against him is viable. Trump should not be prosecuted, but he must also consider this.
It is Garland’s prerogative to decide whether or not to bring charges against a former president in order to protect the country’s interests. Legal experts say that if he files charges, a trial might last two to three years, which would put the topic at the forefront of the 2024 presidential race. Trump and his allies were involved in a “criminal conspiracy,” according to the committee.
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Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) recently remarked on ABC’s “This Week”: “I’d like to see the Justice Department examine any credible claim of criminal behavior, on the side of Donald Trump or anyone else. To be effective, “the rule of law must apply equally to all.” Such allegations against a president have never been brought by federal authorities in the past. In the end, those in crucial positions decided to unite the country and move on.
The Nixon and Clinton Decades Have Taught Us A Lot
Watergate in the 1970s and Whitewater in the 1990s are the closest current historical examples. Gerald Ford granted Richard Nixon a full pardon after he resigned as president in the wake of the Watergate incident. Recently, Bill Clinton reached a deal with then-independent Counsel Robert Ray following his presidency, who opted not to indict Clinton in the Whitewater inquiry. Among the terms of the agreement, Clinton signed was an acknowledgment that he had lied about Monica Lewinsky in court.
Asked about the Watergate precedent, Ray said he wanted to “account for [Clinton’s] actions without dragging the country through an indictment and a trial” when considering how to handle the Whitewater matter. ‘Do your job and let the consequences fall where they may,’ said a group of people who advised me. However, you must consider the implications for the country, as Ray pointed out. There will be an attorney general who decided to make about whether or not to file a case, even if the attorney general believes that a crime has been committed.
— Justice Department (@TheJusticeDept) October 29, 2021
Joe Biden has consistently stated that he does not want the Justice Department to be influenced by politics, and Garland has similarly committed to remaining free of political interference during his 2020 confirmation. However, the committee hearings on January 6 brought the issue to the forefront and urged Garland to take it into consideration. “These hearings are making it more difficult to try to prevent this in any way. There is no doubt in my mind that this is the committee’s intention, and it’s hard not to believe it.
Supporters of indicting Trump argue that, in the end, the former president should be handled as any other citizen. A legal expert and co-counsel for the House Judiciary Committee during Trump’s first impeachment, Norm Eisen, claimed that, “No one is above the law” and that, “you can’t dismiss that” proof of Trump and co-conspirators’ likely criminal activity, as a federal judge has previously concluded. “Merrick Garland and I go way back. I don’t expect him to treat the president any differently than he would any other defendant in a similar position.”
However, there is no other defendant in a similar situation, Eisen noted. A previous president has never been prosecuted in the United States, as far as I know.
Then uphold the subpoenas and enforce the law. If the previous admin can get away with breaking laws along with an Insurrection the next coup will then be successful! Being aloof now for political reasons is helping no one! Enforce the law! Enforce the subpoenas! Act! 🤷♀️👊
— Sheri 🇺🇦 (@redsheri1) October 29, 2021
What Could Be The Charges Against Trump?
Legal experts have mapped out many areas of federal criminal law that they believe Trump could have broken in the weeks following the 2020 election, and they’ve outlined their reasoning. There are three possible offenses: conspiracy to defraud the United States, obstruction of official action, and criminal solicitation to commit electoral fraud, according to Eisen and his co-authors.
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Others have contended that Trump and his advisers tried to interfere in the election in violation of the 14th Amendment’s principle of “one person, one vote. In a third argument, Trump may have exploited his government authority for any illegal purpose, a breach of criminal law.
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